LeBron James 'packed the cape' and scores 40 in Lakers' road win over Nets


The Brooklyn Nets had just cut the Lakers’ lead to single digits, erasing three quarters of mostly forgettable basketball by the home team with a quick run against the second unit.

Momentum had swung, the Lakers’ 26-point lead down to only eight.

But LeBron James had more than the ball in his hands. He had the rope, and the NBA’s all-time leading scorer can still swing momentum back in a blink.

James made a three-pointer and then another, two of his nine threes in the game, calmly jogging back like a player who knew danger had been avoided.

“The long ball in our game is definitely a momentum-shifter,” James said.

James finished with 40 points — scoring 17 in the fourth — as the Lakers beat Brooklyn 116-104. It’s the team’s 42nd win this season, assuring that they’ll finish with a winning record.

For James, it was a career night — the nine threes tying the most he’s had in a game. He missed only one attempt from deep, hitting shots in the fourth that had escalating degrees of difficulty.

After, he acknowledged there might not be many more nights like this — at least relatively speaking.

“Not very long. Not very long. I’m on the other side, obviously, of the hill,” James said when asked about how much longer he’ll play in the NBA.

“So I’m not going to play another 21 years, that’s for damn sure. But not very long. I don’t know what or when that door will close as far as when I retire, but I don’t have much time left.”

James exited the game in the fourth to a standing ovation. It’s just the 12th game in league history with a player making nine threes and shooting 90% or better from deep.

“Just extremely thankful that he packed the cape on the road trip,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

The Lakers got some added depth when Gabe Vincent returned from a knee injury that’s limited him to just five games before Sunday.

“I wouldn’t step on that court if I didn’t feel like I could help my team win games,” he said pregame. “Whatever the role may be, whatever the minutes may be, that’s not for me to decide.”

Vincent came off the bench and played 14 minutes and scored two points.

“Just filling in the gaps,” Vincent said about what he focused on in his first game back. “Go out there and compete defensively when I can on the perimeter. Battle for a board if it comes my way. If not, get the other guy out of the way. Just doing the little things.”

Injured forward Jarred Vanderbilt also seemed to ramp up his workload pregame, going through extensive on-court shooting drills. Vanderbilt is still recovering from a foot injury he sustained Feb. 1 and has not been cleared for conditioning work.

“Just not to skip any steps, just to keep taking things day by day and don’t listen to whoever’s out there putting target dates on his return,” Ham said. “Just maximize each day, try to get better each day and just stick to the plan. Gabe had to do the same thing, JV has to do the same thing as well. Just stick to the plan.”

If the positive injury news wasn’t enough of a boost, an awful start from the Nets helped the Lakers race to a biglead.

The Nets missed their first 11 shots and turned it over twice before they scored their first points, the Lakers opening the game on a 17-0 run.

Brooklyn never led.

Anthony Davis scored 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and Rui Hachimura had his third double-double in the last four games with 20 points and 10 rebounds. He, Davis and James combined to shoot 30 for 41 (73.2%) from the field.

The Lakers continue their trip Tuesday in Toronto against the Raptors.



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